URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The University of Illinois could face a lawsuit if officials are unable to work out an agreement with the alleged victims of a former UIUC professor before Friday.
A lawsuit filed in federal court in Urbana last week detailed numerous allegations of rape, trafficking and forced labor against former UI East Asian Languages and Culture department head Gary Xu by two former students and a professor at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
The suit was directed against Xu and not the UI.
It suit did, however, note multiple reports made to the university about Xu’s alleged behavior and the fact that Xu was allowed to remain on a fully-paid administrative leave from late 2016 until he resigned in 2018.
“In our view, the university repeatedly failed to protect students from Gary Xu when they were given lots of notice that he was a sexual predator,” Jeff McAllister, a managing partner of the New York-based McAllister Olivarius law firm said.
The lawsuit against Xu noted multiple instances of one of the victims, then a student at the UI, reaching out to the university with reports of Xu’s alleged behavior, including physical abuse and rape.
McAllister said lawyers for the three alleged victims reached out to the UI and told them “we were going to be suing Gary Xu with the understanding that it was sort of inevitable that they would be next.”
The university and law firm have been in talks “for a little while,” and set a deadline for Friday to come to terms on a “tolling agreement” which would circumvent the statute of limitations, and allow the plaintiffs to sue the university, anyway.
McAllister said he’d been given “some reason for optimism” after noting the university’s public response to the suit.
“I would have said their public statement didn’t come out guns blazing,” he said. “They implicitly agreed that things weren’t perfectly done in the past.”
McAllister said the fundamentals of the case, should an agreement between the victims and UI fail to be reached, will be similar.
UI officials did not respond to requests for comment Thursday, but told CBS in a previous statement that the university is reviewing the complaint against Xu. Officials said the university “investigates and takes appropriate action whenever conduct is reported that may jeopardize or impact the safety or security of our students or others.”